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Many proponents of Brexit insist that leaving the EU will mean Britain is free to do its own trade deals. Once it has left the customs union, they say, the UK will be able to strike agreements with major trading nations such as the US, China and India.

However, writes Gideon Rachman in his column this week, negotiations with these countries would be arduous and the benefits uncertain. The US would no doubt drive a hard bargain on agricultural goods and access to the UK healthcare market, while national security concerns make the “Golden Age” of Sino-British relations declared by former prime minister David Cameron seem like a passing delusion. As for India, it has proven itself an unforgiving negotiator.

Even the UK government’s own research casts doubt on the case for what the prime minister Theresa May has called “Global Britain”, Gideon notes. New deals with non-EU countries will not compensate for the loss in trade that will follow departure from the bloc.

Robert Shrimsley argues that if Theresa May’s Brexit deal is heavily defeated this evening, the prime minister should make herself the willing servant of the House of Commons.

Frances Coppola, a banking commentator, believes that ongoing instability could spell trouble for the reform of Greece’s banks.

John Thornhill finds that a new “mobility marketplace” developed by a technology company called Here has the potential to disrupt ride-hailing disrupters like Uber and Didi.

Leslie Hook explores the effects of the US government shutdown on America’s national parks.

Ben Hall thinks that launching a wide-ranging public consultation on his reform agenda is a high-risk strategy for French president Emmanuel Macron.

What you’ve been saying

Some bright spark should convert diesel cars to electric, letter from David Gunn, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, UK

Having been told that diesel and not petrol-powered cars were the way ahead, we are now told that this is not so and that we should all be considering buying electric cars ( January 4). Meanwhile, there are millions of diesel-powered cars with excellent bodywork on the roads. Surely there is massive scope for an entrepreneurial organisation to profit by converting the vast number of diesel-driven cars on the roads, fitting their bodies out with electric engines.

In response to “ The EU should kill off the UK’s chance of delaying Brexit”, artwish says:

There is so much hysteria around the fact that it would be so damaging to democracy if we ended up by a new referendum, I would like to know how much time has to go by before people are allowed to change their minds. For instance we had a general election in 2015 and May wanted to change the result 2 years later, was that acceptable?

Heathrow’s flight path plan should be grounded, letter from Janet Salmon, Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, UK

If opposition can stop fracking, why can’t we stop the expansion of Heathrow? The UK’s biggest airport now wants to “consult” us about changing its flight paths ( January 8). This is a backdoor approach to increased flights before the decision on the third runway. I think Heathrow should be capped, and have stringent noise and pollution restrictions. No other business is allowed to be so selfish.

Today’s opinion

Inside Business: US Supreme Court weighs shareholders’ M&A legal battles
Decision will shape judiciary’s future view of investors’ dealmaking complaints

FT Alphaville: Introducing the yellow-vest indicator

May’s best course after a Brexit thumping
If the PM’s plan is heavily rejected, she must become a willing servant of the Commons

Lex: JD Sports: working out
Retailer needs to stay fit, given its ambitions

Lex: Euronext/Oslo Bors: catch of the day
Seafood derivatives attract a relative minnow looking to diversify

Lex: L’Occitane/Elemis: cream puff
UK skincare group can point to a strong financial record to justify its price

Lex: Orsted: breeze block
Danish wind farm specialist’s plans need not be blown off course

Markets Insight: Cracks are opening in the global monetary system
Central bankers have bought growth by sacrificing financial stability

Collaborative transport model aims to disrupt the disrupters
Here works across the mobility market to optimise services, reducing traffic and pollution

Greece is running out of time to fix its banks
Political turmoil and slowing demand are hitting efforts to reform the financial sector

Tail Risk: Brexit spells trouble for Europe’s €660tn derivatives market
Reclassification of futures contracts could push up margin requirements

Instant Insight: Emmanuel Macron’s public consultation is a high-risk strategy
There is no sign that the French president will reverse his most controversial policies

Shutdown showmanship in America’s national parks
Funding halt brings out the best in some, the worst in others and has shown Trump’s hand

Brexiters’ delusions on trade die hard
Proponents of ‘Global Britain’ underestimate just how difficult it is to do deals

Free Lunch: Security threat is no reason to relax EU competition policy
The chimera of industrial champions is the wrong answer to China

Dear Jonathan: How do I change my habits?
Your questions for our expert — and readers’ advice

Disruption is thriving in unexpected areas
Consumer technology embraces many offbeat ideas, such as app-connected salt dispensers

Favouritism: the office vice that will never disappear
Leaders persist in offering preferment to people who are most like them

FTfm: How 2019 will pan out for the asset management industry

Lex: Dropbox: cloud nein
Halting slowdown in revenue growth means squeezing more from customers

Inside Business: The real problem for carmakers isn’t Brexit or China; it’s weight
Under pressure to increase sales, manufacturers have added gizmos like driving aids

FT View

The FT View: Trump’s lethal confusion on Middle East policy
Washington is beset by mixed signals and growing hawkishness

The FT View: The impact of China’s slowdown is spreading
Trade war with the US has exposed a deeper economic malaise

The Big Read

The Big Read: Wells Fargo: repairing a damaged brand
Can the bank once seen as the best-managed in America recover its premium valuation after a series of scandals?

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